A cold January night saw the ladies of WISH, in an audience of like minded ladies, watching a new and exciting production of the film/show that undoubtedly did for the WI what Mickey Mouse did for Walt Disney.
I am of course talking about The Girls. An updated and refreshed version of The Calendar Girls, which I am sure you all know is based on the true story of Knapley WI, Yorkshire who stripped off to make a calendar to raise enough money to buy a settee for their local hospital. This, of course, they achieved along with enough money to build a new wing at the hospital and plenty more.
The show did not disappoint – The music was written by the golden boy of the music scene, Gary Barlow,( unfortunately we missed his appearance on stage, by about 4 days!)
The music in the main was a narrative, in much the same vein as Les Mis. Songs that told the story, rather than random dittys. Very catchy songs but not too syrupy and twee. The story was updated and rewritten by the original playwright Tim Firth, and a magnificent job he did. An extra layer was added with the teenager children of the members, and also their husbands being more than just background material. Adding much to the plot and lending more empathy for the women.
It was a show that built up and up, there were tears and laughter throughout. The pinnacle of the performance was of course the making of the calendar. The ladies, who were all fantastic actors and had the bodies of “real” women, stripped of to and bared all, to loud cheers and applause from the audience. It says a lot for the production that this was not in the least bit gratuitous or sleazy, but uplifting and brave. There was nothing about the production that I did not enjoy, the scenery was different and interesting, the acting fabulous and believable. The Lowry is a lovely theatre and we were sat in the front of the stalls and had a great view.
This is a new production, first seen in Leeds at the end of 2015 and hopefully moving to The West End later this year. I think it will thrill audiences for a long while to come.
My thoughts are that they raised much more than money. They raised the profile of The WI and brought life back to it, many seeing it with fresh eyes. I am not sure that many of our members have come along expecting to strip, but many are game for new experiences and challenges.
The Girls are showing at The Lowry until 30 January 2016. For tickets and more information visit here